All Fall Down @erieene
The Outing

Chapter 7: The Outing

As the days approached December the weather became more chilly and biting. Light snow falling onto the already white grounds. A breeze appearing once in a while making anyone outside shiver. Students fought against the cold winds, determined to have a good time in the neighboring village. Speaking to each other with rosy cheeks as they left the safety of the castle and the caretaker's eyes, Filch.

Hidden behind some trees was Tom Riddle waiting for Hadrian to come out of the castle. He was wearing a beige sweater, with grey pants and thick black dragonhide boots. Something casual, as they were only going to Hogsmeade. Nothing like a fancy restaurant he hoped they would visit later on. At the moment, having chaperones that were adults would only hinder his progress. As part of the courtship rules, anything outside of school required adult chaperones. Frustrating, but one had to abide the laws of courtship for it to be considered proper. As Lord Slytherin it was even more important for him, what with his status.

Right now, he despised having to hide behind trees, but the chances of the date being ruined by fangirls was a high one. No fangirls was not the right term, he'd rather call them fantasy girls. Girls who wanted everything for nothing. It was as if they had never heard of earning things through hard work. Like Rosemary Potter, they were content to be pretty dolls that wasted away a family fortune.

His cloak swirled around him as he watched the students head for the village. Though he wouldn't admit it, he was looking forward to the trip as well when he first got his letter. No one knew, he had a reputation to uphold by the time it was third year. Showing weakness was prohibited if he wanted his reputation to grow further. That didn't mean he couldn't feel the excitement internally…

Noticing a flurry of moment, Tom focused back on the entrance of Hogwarts. He lost his breath at the sight that appeared before him. In the back of his mind Tom wondered how long it would take for him to become used to the beauty that was Hadrian. Something inside him whispered that it would be impossible. Hadrian was too unique, different from everyone else, like him. He was a rarity that Tom wasn't willing to let go. He'd make sure that Hadrian was his by the end of this courtship, no matter how long that took.

"Sorry for taking so long, but my sister wouldn't let me leave the common room until she deemed me 'presentable'," Hadrian said with a small smile. "Although I don't know what was wrong with the outfit I had picked before she decided to raid my closet." Hadrian muttered near the end. Tom heard him clearly and felt his lips twitch in amusement.

"Sister? I was under the impression that you two wanted nothing to do with each other." He asked as they got up on the carriage.

"You're correct, Rosemary and I will never think of each other as siblings, close siblings to be more specific. There's too much hatred between us for such a bond. The one I was speaking about Luna Lovegood. She's my escort, but gives us the maximum distance allowed for privacy sake. She finds the female escort you have rather interesting, they talk of astronomy most of the time. Later on she'll be meeting with the Weasley twins and Neville Longbottom. Luna may seem strange to others, but I cannot lie about her sense of fashion when she puts in effort." Hadrian replied with a small smile.

"Ah, Cassandra hasn't been saying much about the time spent as my escort. Though she has shown some interest in getting to know Miss Lovegood better. Apparently her way of thinking was refreshing for her." He decided to make Miss Moreau show more interest in the conversations. With how close Hadrian was to Lovegood, she could learn things that would be beneficial for him. Things that would make winning his stubborn Raven's heart easier.

"I still have one question on my mind. Why does your sister hate you so much? Her malice for you can't be based only on the fact that I am courting you instead of her. What made her dislike you at first?" Tom asked truly curious about the twins relationship. Hadrian sighed, his fingers raking through his hair,

"I don't know. I always wondered what caused her to hate me so much. She got everything she ever needed from our parents. Most of my time was spent at the family library with my grandparents learning about the world we live in. Rose on the other hand was too busy playing and acting like a fool. I'm sure they'd say she was acting her age then. Maybe one day I will get the answer, it all depends." he shrugged in the end. A frown appeared on Tom's lips,

"That doesn't seem right, your parents are favouring your sister. Parents are to give equal attention to all their children, but they don't follow that. At least that's what I was able to figure out from the article Skeeter wrote. Surely there isn't anything for her to be jealous of? First child and the supposed heir to the Potter fortune, one wouldn't want more after that." He thought, trying to come up with speculations, but nothing made sense.

"I thought this was an outing Tom? Not an interrogation about my family." His voice was light, in a teasing tone. Tom replied back with a smirk,

"Very well, where would you like to start our outing?" Enjoying the treatment of being a normal person.

"Shall we go to the bookshop and supply shop? I have some things to buy from those places, after that we can go see what else the village has to offer us?" He suggested as they entered the busy village, filled with laughter and chatter.

"That's a sound idea, something you'd expect from a Ravenclaw." He gave a pleasant smile at the look Hadrian gave him. Amusement and a touch of exasperation,

"Really? I thought Slytherins were the ones to have master plans." He said in reply making Tom laugh.

We entered the only bookshop that Hogsmeade had, named Tomes and Scrolls. It was decently decorated, containing two floors and shelves covering every surface area on the walls. A musty feeling was in the air, the smell of leather and old parchment prominent, while dust seemed to float in the air. Walking was difficult as there were stacks of books everywhere, one upon another. How anyone could find anything in a place like this was the question I had.

Hadrian went over to the Runes section, fingers brushing against the spines of the books. The action held a certain air of elegance that seemed innocent in a way. I went over to the journals section. My latest ones had no empty pages left, despite them only being two months old. Being a Rising Dark Lord meant one had to do extensive research on goals and issues in the world. With this knowledge one would be able to appease the political crowd and gather more allies. A way to ensure that the cause one was going for was achieved. It was an exhausting task, but a challenge that kept my mind active.

I took seven of the larger journals along with a few quills and ink pots. Going over to Hadrian I noticed that he had selected books on Rune chain links. Along with the theory of incorporating magic into inanimate objects. I placed the basket beside him and looked up at the shelves. I took out several books, making sure they were the latest editions and in good condition. Satisfied I took the ones in Hadrian's arms and replaced them with the new stack.

"You do know that I was going to purchase those books? They're necessary for the project Professor Freto assigned us." He stated. I placed the ones he took on an empty shelf, the shopkeeper would organize them.

"I've already read those books, and for what you're doing they're not the proper ones. The authors talk more about the theory of Rune Links and adding them onto inanimate objects. For the project, you'll need practical ones as they'll have more information. I added some theoretical ones in the mix for when you write your report, but you won't need them for much else." I explained. He only raised a brow, looking over the books with a critical eye before nodding.

"I suppose I owe you a thank you, as you reduced my workload." He mumbled, reading the summary of one author.

"I'll pay for your books as thank you." He replied once satisfied with all the books. His eyes shined showing the happiness he was feeling.

I didn't argue, but the moment he was about to pay I already placed the amount on the counter which the shop owner took with a smile. He wasn't very old, around his thirties with no signs of aging. Then again magic increased our lifespan, so he could be a lot older than he looked.

"I thought I told you that I would be paying as a thank you." Hadrian pointed out with narrowed eyes.

"Yes, but then again I am the one who invited you to this outing. As your suitor I am obligated to pay for your books as well. It was not much to pay for either way." I brushed off and enjoyed what seemed to be an angry blush appear on his face. The old man at the desk gave me an amused smile as he accepted the money I gave.

Hermione Granger appeared a second later with a pile of books that varied in subjects. She paused at the sight of us before huffing. I suppose her pride is still bruised with Hadrian and I taking the top two spots of our year. I thought in amusement. My smile turned into irritation as I remembered how naive the girl was. She was introduced to the Wizarding world recently compared to others who have known it for years. She complained about the lack of development compared to the Muggle world. All without even attempting to learn of the delicate traditions run by this world.

Should she have put in some effort of learning this world first she'd understand why high amounts of magic made electronics short circuit, which was a danger. This prevented us from adapting what Muggles have made into our world. People are researching ways to circumvent such a problem, but progress was slow going. There weren't many areas saturated with magic, and each one was heavily guarded. No one was willing to allow long term experimentation to occur, fearing any side effects.

"I see that you both took books out of the curriculum. How do you expect to stay at the top of our class if you're pursuing other subjects?" She sniffed, her tone rather arrogant. Her attitude has always annoyed us Slytherins, she deserved the title 'Mudblood'. From the corner of my eye I could see that Hadrian agreed with the annoyed look he was giving her.

"We have no need to worry, as we're expanding our knowledge. Hogwarts has a limited curriculum and these books will solve that issue for us. By expanding our horizons we strengthen our knowledge. We aren't considered prodigies for no reason, it's because of our in depth learning we have such titles. It makes me wonder how this has become your business on what Hadrian and I do?" I said tilting my head a bit. Her face turned red. I felt revolted, even though she was just embarrassed she still felt an attraction towards me. No inner strength at all unlike Hadrian who had a fire in him. One that had to be prodded, but it was there nonetheless.

"Have you learned the traditions and customs of the Wizarding World yet Miss Granger?" Hadrian cut in, "With your thirst for knowledge I thought that would be the first thing you would learn about. After all this world is much different than the one you've been raised in. It would be tragic should you make enemies who are very important. One of them being myself as I am the potential heir to the Potter fortune."

I mentally applauded to him for the fantastical performance. He cornered Granger under the act of a polite student who was curious. All purebloods knew she did no such research, it was obvious with the way she spoke of things after all these years. House Elves were not slaves, no matter what she said. They held a symbiotic relationship with the bonded wizard. The wizard supplied them with magic while the elves in return worked. Of course there was the matter of treatment these elves received based on their work, were she trying to improve that I'd respect her. No she had automatically assumed that they're unwilling slaves from just what she heard.

"How can you consider yourself the heir? You're the second born and from what your sister has told me you won't inherit any of the Potter fortune." she snapped back.

A thud was heard through the shop as the shopkeeper released a large stack of books onto the counter and looked at Granger with disdain. She finally realized what she said, but still looked at Hadrian smugly. She dared to talk about a subject she knows nothing of! As if she would know how the Noble houses work! I thought angrily gripping my wand.

"I would be careful of what you say Granger. You are at the moment treading on thin ice. Subjects like this are meant only for nobility such as my house. For a muggleborn like you, you cannot even the grasp the complexity that is our lives. I may be second born, but my sister has forgotten an important piece of information. Any child born after the first can challenge for the position of heir. It's a way to find the most suitable candidate that will further improve the family line.

It's a law that's been forgotten what with all the recent changes have been made about heirs. Even so it still stands, and I can take the title with no difficulty. Rose has barely put effort into her studies while I am the second smartest student of our year. James has only said that my sister would gain everything to follow what everyone else is doing." His tone ice cold while the look in his eyes suggested he was looking at the most disgusting thing in the world.

"I am well aware of that! Why do such a thing to your own sister?! You're twins!" She exclaimed. Hadrian stared at her before taking his things and leaving the shop. Probably holding back from saying something that'd make him look terrible.

"W-Why I never! How rude of him!" She said, giving a sniff and turning her nose. That was what made the bubble of anger burst,

"No, how rude of you for questioning private affairs." I stated, nodding to the shop owner in thanks for packaging my items. Heading outside I spotted Hadrian looking at items on display at the other shop.

"I apologize for losing my temper. It was rude of me especially with the gift you have given me." He said as he read the description of the item placed on display.

"Everyone loses their temper once in awhile. What she said was completely out of her bounds and disrespectful. She had no right to say those things without knowing the politics of the Wizarding World. It's one of my main reasons for hating muggleborns. They come into our world expecting it to be like theirs. When it isn't they try to force change on us, wanting several of our traditions and history to be gone. They don't understand the system that the Wizarding world has. Nor do they take the effort to do so." I replied, secretly pleased to see his anger up close. It was a sight to behold and the feel of his magic...

"Shall we see what else this small village has to offer for us?" I asked wanting to get our minds away from such a depressing topic. He nodded, shoulders relaxing as we went to see some of the less popular shops.

We ended up at a pawn shop that held some items worth noting. We were overlooking some of the more old and worn books that was available. Books like these contain many secrets and valuable information. Hadrian seeing nothing of interest in this area went over the shelves that held items.

I found a treasure trove of Parseltongue books hidden away in a corner. It had a nifty glamour that would make it look like some Egyptian books with a border of hieroglyphics. The contents of the books contained parsel battle magic. A subject that was fascinating from the little I read. For the entire set I paid fifty galleons, cheap as the shopkeeper didn't know it's true worth.

Hadrian took a few books along with a locket made of gears that were in constant motion. Thinking that I would pay for the items like before he already had the necessary amount in his hands. It was amusing to see and showed how relaxed he came around me. While I did some things that angered him, he was quick to understand once I apologized. Courting him was much different from what I expected, but not bothersome. I always did love having a challenge, and Hadrian was that.

"Those are good books to take young man. May I ask your reason for taking books like these?" An old man, who was the owner of the shop asked Hadrian. He had a growing belly, grey hairs, and a kind face that would make others relax around him.

"Our professor for Ancient Runes has given our class a project of high difficulty. We're to invent something that is new or an improved version of an object already made. My project is complicated in certain areas because of how small that branch of work is. The professor recommended these for the information I need." He explained. The man was looking at him for a long while, his focus was mostly around the face.

"Are you related to Fleamont Potter in any way?" He asked, Hadrian stiffened at the question, but answered,

"He was my grandfather if that is what you're asking. May I ask on how you figured it out?"

The man gave a large grin. "Fleamont and I were good friends during our time in Hogwarts. He always wondered why I wanted to become a shopkeeper. I had the qualifications to be a ward specialist in his eyes. I never did tell him my reasons in the end. I was able to tell who you were because your grandfather spoke of you. You look quite like him and Euphemia as well." The man explained with a wistful look in his eyes. He told us to wait for a moment saying that his grandfather left something meant for him. He came back with a moderately sized dark brown chest box that had gold swirls all over it. We all coughed at the amount of dust the chest gave off when it was placed on the counter.

"He gave this to me around a few months before his death. He said that it held great importance for you and that I was to give this to you when you turned seventeen. I originally planned to mail this on your birthday, but there's no time better than the present aye?" He chuckled.

I watched as Hadrian gingerly picked up the chest, as if worried that it would shatter at any moment. I walked away to give him a sense of privacy. It was something from his grandfather who he loved greatly. I was wondering exactly what the late Lord Potter had planned. He was well known for having backup plans that would benefit the family the most. A genius when it came to business and plans from what I heard.

It was strange, why would would the late Lord give something of importance to a friend? Wouldn't it have been safer to place it inside the family vault? Gringotts was the most secure place in the Wizarding World. Very curious, but also none of my business. I didn't say anything when Hadrian exited the shop quietly or that his eyes were a bit red.

There was also a rumour going around the Pureblood circles about the Potter ring. How James wasn't accepted by it for a strange reason. Of course the rumors disappeared when he appeared with the ring on his hand. Yet the older Pureblood families were speculating on whether that ring was the Lord ring. Their reasoning was that it didn't hold the abundance of magic that every Ancient House ring held. Which suggested that James was not wearing the true Lord ring. He made a copy to keep up appearances, but then where was the Lord ring then? Was it still at Gringotts waiting for a worthy wielder?

The more I learned about the Potter family and their dynamics the more questions I had. There were so many secrets before me, but the answers were out of my reach. I couldn't get answers as it would be rude of me, and Hadrian may not have them. The courtship was the most important thing, anything afterwards could be handled later.

We decided to have lunch at Three Broomsticks, the weather becoming too cold for us to handle. It seemed that many had the same idea as the Three Broomsticks was crowded. Noisy with students yelling at each other to be heard. With Madame Rosmerta receiving big business lately, she was able to expand the place. There was a now a second floor allowing more people to sit around.

The second floor was what Abraxas called, "sophisticated enough for a pureblood." It was surrounded by muffling wards so all the hustle and bustle on the first floor was a minor buzz. The floor was a dark oak hardwood that complimented the red walls and yellow lights around the room. The tablecloth was a nice cream colour with a single rose in a vase acting as the centerpiece.

I held Hadrian's hand and led him to a table that was a bit more out of the way, but was still with the others somewhat. It would give a sense of privacy that was needed for our date. We sat down and waited for a waiter to serve us.

"Sorry for the long wait, it has been a busy day for us. Anyways what would you two like to order?" The waiter, who was a boy looking around nineteen years old, asked the two. He could be considered rather cute with his light brown hair, freckles, and green eyes. I told him my order and gave him a polite smile. One should always be polite to those who were serving as anything could be done to your food in the time it took to be prepared and then served. Though it was curious that his face had turned red, seemed like he had found me attractive, how strange… No one else had considered me attractive due to my status.

Tom gave his order right after, his form more tense as he gave a glare to the poor man. Seemed like he had also noticed the attraction. Like before he was acting as a jealous boyfriend much to my amusement. One would think that the Lord of Slytherin would be beneath such things. Remembering something I spoke to Tom,

"My parents have invited you to spend the Winter Holidays at Potter Manor if you'd like." More or less for Rose to try and win over Tom, though I doubt she'd have much success. Considering the incident in the classroom.

"How will you be planning to spend the holidays?" Tom asked me as one of the waiters gave us glasses filled with water. My mind went back to the letter I received a little while back.

(Flashback)

Dear Son,

This letter is only business related. Since Lord Slytherin has sent you that letter, the public have become suspicious. Speculating on who your suitor is and wondering why we haven't disclosed the identity. That's to be discussed for another time, right now I have a task for you.

Your job is to make sure that Lord Slytherin visits us for the holidays. Use any means necessary and it would be best for you to stay at Hogwarts for the Winter Holidays. Your Professor for Ancient Runes has expressed an interest with working with you.

~Your Father

Lord Potter

(End of Flashback)

"I will be spending my holidays with one of my Uncles. He wishes to strengthen our relationship, and even help me with the progress of my project. Of course on the day of Yule I'll be spending my time with my family as tradition calls. There's also the matter that some key ingredients can only be found in Potter Manor for my idea." I stated as a female waiter placed our orders on the table.

"What about you? What are your plans for the holidays?" I asked curious as Tom took a bite out of his pasta.

"The Malfoys have invited me to their annual Winter Ball. After that I will be completely free, so I may spend my time at Potter Manor for six days. Will your parents be fine with that?" Tom swallowed his bite of the salad, which looked quite delicious, and wiped his mouth on the napkin.

"No, they won't mind at all. In all honesty they would be ecstatic since they were hoping you would say that. What about your other friends? Have they also not invited you to join them during their holidays?" I was curious since Tom was popular, it would be strange if he was not invited to their events. This was also an opportunity to learn of his friends. They were quite the influential group on the side of politics, each of them Dark or Neutral. Interesting now that I think of it in more depth. Tom smirked, showing that he understood the motives behind the question.

"They have all decided that for this Winter they would like to stay in Britain. The events that were open this year didn't interest them. The only event they are going to is the Malfoy ball. Other than that they'll be completely free. Plus it would be quite rude of me to not spend my time with the person I am courting." he looked at me as he said it. I only raised a brow before changing the subject to what he thought of the school year so far.

"It's been somewhat slow in my opinion, nothing much is happening nowadays. The only thing keeping me entertained are my personal projects, and the Runes project. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be sure on what to do." He stated, relaxing back into his chair. I raised my brow at the comment of personal projects,

"Personal projects? What kind of personal projects? I didn't think you'd have such things, you should be rather busy maintaining your number one spot." I said, a small smile on my lips. Curious about the mysterious Tom Riddle. Now that he was no longer trying to court me constantly. It was a refreshing change, as finding someone who could challenge me was difficult in Hogwarts. An amused smile appeared on his lips,

"Simple stuff really, things that the Slytherin house is in all the time. Politics, connection building, that sort of thing. I have a goal in mind for what I wish to do with Wizarding World. Our world is too outdated compared to the Muggle world. I wish to fix that issue, while maintaining the old traditions we have. Taking off several of the illogical and harmful laws along the way is also another thing I'd like to do." Of course him being a Dark Lord was a small thing. All that he said was true, those were his goals as the Dark and Grey faction were suffering. The government had become too pro Light and that wasn't a good thing. The Ministry of Magic was to remain a neutral force, though it was clear that it wasn't as years went on.

"That's quite ambitious of you, what with your position. Maintaining your number one spot while doing all that is impressive. The workload must be immense, something that I may not be able to handle." He stated, well aware of his own limitations.

"Ah yes, because of your apparent need for sleep." Tom answered back, lips twitching in slight amusement. I raised an eyebrow in return. Glad that our interactions became more of friends than suitor and courtesan. It was too stiff and awkward for me to handle, how ladies could enjoy this kind of thing was a mystery. Maybe it had to do with their delusions of romance? That was possible…

"It's not like everyone can function on three hours of sleep constantly. Something that you are doing no doubt with what you told me earlier." I finished up my pasta while Tom hummed. His salad halfway finished, as we were talking more than eating.

"How goes your progress with the Runes Project? It seems that you picked something complex with all the research you're doing." He stated, gathering more of his salad with his fork.

I frowned, remembering some of the difficulties I've encountered,

"It's going rather well when taking all things into consideration. The amount of progress I've had compared to others would be surprising. Though I haven't started on the practical side of my idea yet, I'm having some issues with the theory. Specifically my chain runes, and the professor is going to be away for a bit..." I said, sighing a small bit. This was the most unfortunate time for Professor Freto to be gone.

"I could take a look at them, I'm well-versed with chaining Runes. My advance study has ensured that I could use that branch safely." He offered, making my mood lift up. I brought out the notebook where I copied all the runic circles I was to use.

"My main problem is with this runic chain and how to incorporate with the others. A disruption can occur and with them being powerful runes the backlash would be deadly. The item itself has to be as safe as possible so it can be used during Auror training. My audience is the Auror Department and Wizengamot after all." I explained. He only gave a nod while taking a closer look on what was written.

"Hmm, I see your issue and options of countering it are limited. You don't want the performance of the object to go down as well, nor make it too magically draining. The general population have moderately small magical cores. Experiencing core exhaustion would defeat the purpose of your project..." He turned over the page, looking at the larger diagram I had of the Memoria.

"You could place this runic chain horizontally across from the surface. Change the shape to a half sphere, allowing more space. The chains then would be more in the array of a dome then. It'll reduce the risk and amount of power needed as well." He suggested, finger tracing over the part he was speaking of. I moved closer to see what exactly he meant.

"That's possible, some adjustments will have to be made to the design... I can add in more things to the object as well now that there's more space." I mumbled, my mind swimming with possible ideas with this change. Happy now with a possible solution I changed the topic to his Runes Project.

"I've already completed a prototype, it still needs to go through testing of course. Afterwards I'll make the required adjustments and changes, we have very similar ideas. Mine focuses on the Auror Department and has to do with their Battle Capabilities. Due to the cases one would have to take control and stamina are essential for them. I find their level to be lacking despite Master Duelists only besting them.

Instead of regular wooden dummies I've created a combat figure for them to use. It's able to inform the attacker how much control and power they placed in a spell. I'm creating a level system that would make the attacker have a difficult time to take down. Giving a more accurate simulation of what it'll be like fighting against an enemy. Though I haven't added that into the figurine just yet. Seeing the control system work is far more important. The level system would mean making the figurine move, to avoid spells and such. That requires a completely different array of rune chains. I'll make that the next stage of the project if the Ministry is willing to have the control figurine first." He finished while my mind was swimming with all the information he gave. It was very impressive, the concept was complex, and would take plenty of time to create. The way he spoke showed confidence that the project itself will be a success.

"The concept itself will affect the Wizarding World vastly. Improving the fighting force while also showing the true potential of Runes. The population has become too content with the way things are now. Advancement in our way of life has been long overdue if I do say so myself." I stated, finishing up my sandwich.

"I agree, the creativity and ambition of the people seem to be greatly reduced. We still study over the things that had happened long in the past. Nothing big has occurred over the past few hundreds of years. After Nicholas Flamel created the Philosopher's Stone things seem to have come to a halt. Professor Snape's creation of the Wolfbane Potion is the only noteworthy advancement. Even then no one is attempting to further improve or test the discovery." Thinking back to the things we learned I could see where he was coming from.

"I say it's because of the amount of bigotry and prejudice that is running in the Wizarding World. A cure for werewolves could have been made by now. With the help of the Wolfbane Potion we could observe what exactly happens to them. See how they're able to retain a human aspect of themselves after the transformation. No one wants to go near Werewolves because of how they're perceived. My uncle, Remus Lupin is known to be a werewolf, yet he has not attacked anyone.

He locks himself away during the full moon, to prevent himself from hurting anyone. Despite that he can't work because werewolves are considered beasts. This prevents him from being able to afford the Wolfbane Potion. Something that would help him and make the transformations more bearable. Then one has to taken into account of the price. Considering the ingredients and the time for preparation, the cost is too much. In fact it's three times more expensive than it should be. People don't want to give them help, because they're werewolves. It's a complete circle and it happens with other aspects of our lives. Second Borns, are a good example." I added in, becoming more passionate about the topic. Tom raised a brow, becoming interested in the subject.

"Second borns? What is it that second borns or other children experience?" I blinked, looking at him in surprise. He didn't know? His position as a Lord of a Noble House should have ensured that. That would explain why he was so lost on why I was angered by the letter at the Masquerade…

"Inequality, which may sound ridiculous to you, but it is true. Any child born after the first will experience, no matter how well of the family may be. The reason being that we're considered as extras, spares. A way to ensure the line does continue should anything happen to the first born. The firstborn is the heir, and so they inherit everything while the rest is left to fend for themselves. We only have the name of our family and a little bit of income given to us in the beginning. Enough to make sure we can have our own place and buy some necessities. After that, it's up to the children to do the rest. No support, or anything." My voice turning bitter as I remembered the day I discovered such a thing.

"The situation has only turned worse as a recent law came to be. The heir inherits everything like before, but now it became an obligation. Assets, businesses, and more is now given to the heir, nothing left over for the other children. Because of this the second borns are considered to be useless. Making the ideas of spares and extras even more prominent. The only way second borns can have a semblance of equality is if we do our very best in our education. Increasing our chances of a good career and such, even then there's not much success." I explained, ignoring the growing feel of bitterness in my chest. Rose had everything handed to her, while I struggled for a small portion of what she had.

"Is there any way for the second borns and such to become heirs of the line instead of the first born?" He asked. I paused thinking for a moment, remembering the books I've read.

"Their interactions are rather smooth now. None of the tension that was present during the Masquerade is here." Alphard stated, watching Tom and Hadrian. The others had to agree, the two seemed to be rather into the conversation. A few smiles were thrown in here and there.

"It's possible that our lord has made a mistake in handling Hadrian. Unlike the others of the Hogwarts population he's unique, we all know why. It looks like that Tom is unaware of why exactly though, which is not surprising. That kind of knowledge is only exclusive to the ancient lines of Purebloods. With Tom not having any other family member of the Slytherin it's only expected for him to not know of this." Zevi reminded them, reading a book. Contrary to the others he wasn't as worried. Their lord was determined to have Hadrian, and like always he would have Hadrian.

"Do you think we should inform him?" Cygnus asked, eyeing the other students. The silencing ward around them was strong, but there could be eavesdroppers still.

"No, it would be best to let our Lord figure this out. If we were to say anything he may think we've jumped to conclusions. Our Lord doesn't like us getting ahead of ourselves, having him angry is the last thing we should want." Abraxas answered, picking at his tomato salad. The food wasn't up to his standards as always. The others tensed at the mention of Tom's anger. It was a rare thing as he was more malicious with his actions. But when his anger came out... They all got goose bumps at receiving his ire, deciding to not pursue this topic any further.

"There is a way for any child after the firstborn to become the heir of the family line. Although the process of such a thing is rather intricate with several conditions. Before only males would inherit the family inheritance. Although due to recent development females were able to as well. Thus why my sister is the one who will inherit instead of me.

"Once she's married she'll need to give birth to two children. Normally the eldest would take on the Husband's family name. The second born continuing the wife's family line. Should the first born be inadequate for the male family line, the second born will be given the name. "Likewise this situation can also be applied to Rose and me." Hadrian explained. Taking sips of water between as it was a lengthy explanation. I interrupted him, an important question on my mind,

"Then why hasn't it been done? Rosemary has proven to be unworthy of the Potter Family name time and time again. Yet she's still the heir to the entire fortune of your family." It did not make sense, not with the information that came to light. Hadrian gave a bittersweet smile,

"The decision lies with the Head of the Family which is my father. My parents don't see anything wrong with Rose being the heir of the family line. Even if someone were to talk with them I'm sure they wouldn't change their mind. The two of them are very stubborn."

"I see, and so you're stuck in this position. A more than worthy enough heir for your family line, but your parents don't name you heir. Since you're not heir, you're just the second child of a prominent family, nothing else to note of." Everything made sense now, why Hadrian didn't like threats of his freedom. Or insults to it, all that he had now he made himself.

"Yes, but if we were any other family a duel would've occurred between the two children. An opportunity between the two children to see who's worthy of the family name. That would be considered as the duel between heirs. Since my parents favor Rose far too much, the likelihood of such a thing happening is slim." He finished off, refilling his glass of water. The waiter approached, replacing our empty plates with dessert.

"It's very unfortunate, your parents are going to end up ruining the family name at this rate." A very unfortunate situation, Hadrian could have brought the Potter family name to new heights.

The two were unaware that Rose and her group of friends were a few tables away. Hermione had told Parvati the incident in the bookshop, needing a friend to rant to. She became horrified at hearing that Hadrian's words were true. Parvati suggested for her to finally learn the tradition of the Wizarding World. To prevent from making any further mistakes and enemies. As Hermione listened to her recommendations she forgot about Hadrian's words. Particularly about his ability to win the family fortune through a duel. Lavender noticed Tom sitting only a few tables away and informed Rose,

"Rose, look! There's Tom!" Her voice coated with excitement. The group's attention went to the duo. They seemed to be having a rather pleasant conversation. Both of them were quite relaxed, having what seemed to be a three course meal. They seemed to be in the midst of what was the main course. Hadrian had given Tom a journal, and the two seemed to be in some form of a discussion.

"Why is Hadrian with him? Didn't you say that your brother was being courted Rose?" Hermione inquired. Rose nodded her head as she stared at the two. What was her brother doing now? He wasn't supposed to go on something that was like a date! He didn't even have a chaperon with him! Just wait till her parents heard about this! Then her brother would be punished like he deserved!

"Maybe Tom finally noticed you! I bet he's too shy to talk to you so he's asking your brother about you!" Ginny supplied. Lavender eyes lit up as she gave a squeal,

"Oh! That's so cute Rose! Tom is so taken with you that he can't talk with you properly!" Her friend nodded her head, a wide grin on her face,

"That's so romantic! I bet he's asking your brother all the things you like so he could woo you!" The duo gave dreamy sighs, but Hermione was a bit skeptical. Tom Riddle didn't look like the shy type, and she was still irked about what happened in the bookstore. The girls decided to observe the two for the rest of their time in the cafe. Hadrian was laughing at something Tom was saying and they noted how his eyes seemed to sparkle. Now that the Rose's friends were able to look at Hadrian better, they found him attractive.

Raven black messy hair that looked stylish instead of unkempt. Some soft features here and there, mixed in with his aristocratic lineage. The shockingly green eyes that held a gleam of intelligence. Hadrian should be having a line of people after him, offering proposals as he was a Potter. If only he wasn't a second born then he would have been a good candidate to marry.

It wasn't long before dessert came to the two's table. Rose took note of the cake that Tom was eating. Maybe she could bake something for him, add in some extra things, her mother would help her for sure. If she baked it herself than Tom would be more impressed! She needed to write a letter to her mother for some help, she understood Muggle equipment more. She focused on the duo once more at the sight of movement.

Hadrian raised an eyebrow, taking a spare spoon, he took a scoop of his ice cream and held it out to Tom. Seemed like Tom wanted to know how the ice cream tasted... Instead of taking the spoon, Tom placed his mouth on the spoon, causing the watching girls to gasp. Rose froze, her face turning rather red from anger, oh her brother was going to get it. That was a violation of the courting laws, he had no chaperone around him! She wasn't going to believe him not liking Tom for a second!

I could feel my eyes widen as Tom put his mouth on the spoon. The action was only reserved for couples, something that we were not! What was even more infuriating was that he was enjoying this! The amused glint in his eyes was more than enough for me to know. I narrowed my eyes at him, ignoring him licking his lips and the red flecks in his eyes,

"That's a violation of one of the courting laws." I hissed at him. He didn't even looked worried that he broke one of the laws!

"Correction, I toed the line. You offered me the spoon Hadrian, I was given the choice to take it in my hand, or eat it directly. As it is a frozen dessert I couldn't have it melting." He finished with a smirk. Damn him and his ability to move around the laws! I ignored the slight giggling that was coming from my sister. She was probably enjoying how irritated Tom was making me.

"Even so people are not to know of our courtship correct? What you did could have taken away all the secrecy that my parents had made." Tom raised an eyebrow,

"Ah, but I didn't agree to having this courtship be a secret. I only humoured your parents as they didn't state the need for secrecy. How curious as only your Uncles sent a letter of acceptance, while your parents hadn't given me any notice. If they had expressed their desire of such secrecy I wouldn't have done that. Since they have not, it's of no issue if anyone were to see us." He countered, and I couldn't help, but agree.

"You still haven't answered my question. Why are you courting me? What's your reason?" I wanted to know, because then I could destroy that reason. Then I'll be free from this frustrating situation, I don't want a courtship!

"Your smile." I blinked, my thoughts coming to a halt as I looked at him. Confused by his words for a moment,

"My... smile? What does my smile have to do with this courtship?" He only gave a mysterious smirk not elaborating any further. Fine! He could stay as a smug bastard! I was still not going to accept this courtship! I was doing perfectly fine before he came in and ruined all my plans of staying inconspicuous! I was forced out of my thoughts when Tom snatched another piece of my ice cream,

"Get your own ice cream, this one is mine!" I stated, deciding to bring up the question of how my smile made him court me for another day.

"But your ice cream tastes better than what else the cafe can bring Hadrian." Was he teasing me?! I narrowed my eyes and stole a piece of his cake,

"Then it is only right that I return the favor." The rest of our time in Three Broomsticks became a game with our dessert. Defending while still try to take a piece of the other desserts. I'd never thought that Tom would be a person that would enjoy such a thing. It seemed something that was too childish for him.

We each paid for our meals before heading back out to the cold weather. Hadrian explained that he needed to go to Glam Rags to pick up someone's present. Many people meanwhile looked between Hadrian and I with confusion. Most likely wondering why I was in the company of someone who they deemed to be unpopular. As if I would follow their pathetic hierarchy filled with meager games.

"Hello Miss Rodney? I'm here to pick up my order." Hadrian called out as we entered the shop. I looked at some of the items put on display. They were some designs that were good despite the shop not being 'professional'. Well at least by pure blood standards if one wanted to be technical. It was clear to see that whoever made these items put plenty of effort and love into their work.

"Oh Hadrian! I was wondering when you'd come! I remembered that today is a trip for the students. Anyways your order is right here and whoever is receiving it will be delighted." Miss Rodney was an old lady that looked quite young with the blue floral dress she wore. Her glasses were hanging around her neck while dirty blonde hair was put into a simple bun.

"I would've come earlier, but the professors have been giving us many assignments. I rarely have time to read the books I'm interested in now." He explained, before the two went into a discussion on some things as I came over.

"Oh and who are you young man?" She asked when noticing me.

"Fairidah, this is Tom Riddle, a somewhat friend of mine." Hadrian introduced. I quirked a brow at the word somewhat,

"Come now Hadrian, I thought we had become friends officially." I gave him my charming as he sent me an annoyed look. I shifted my attention to the lady, greeting her,

"It's a pleasure to meet you Miss Rodney." She waved her hand, a bright smile on her lips,

"Call me Fairidah dear, Miss Rodney makes me sound old." Hadrian smirked,

"But you are." I raised a brow as Fairidah gave Hadrian a smack over the head. I'd never expected Hadrian to say such a thing to a lady. He seemed more of the type to be polite, but the lady didn't seem mad, more exasperated really.

"If your Grandmother Euphemia was here she'd give you a spanking right now." She scolded. Hadrian only gave her a sheepish smile as he rubbed his head. Before anything else could have been said, a little girl came out from the back door rubbing her eyes,

"Grandma Fair?" She asked, yawning in what could be considered a cute manner.

"Oh Lillian I thought I told you to sleep." Fairidah said with her hands on her hips. Her body language showing that she was fond of the kid.

"I was when I woke up you weren't there." She explained as she was picked up. I suppose she could be considered adorable with her blonde curls, green eyes, and freckles on the nose. The moment she noticed Hadrian a large smile appeared while she stretched out her arms,

"Hari!" She squealed. Chuckling Hadrian carried her while she placed her head on his shoulder. He was good with handling children, none of the awkwardness people normally had. I watched the two interact, interested in their relationship,

"Lillian I would like you to meet Tom. He goes to the same school as me at that big castle." He explained. I gave her a smile, not wanting to frighten her. That would bring some unwanted issues, and showing I was good with children was essential.

"You mean where all the Princes and Princesses stay?" She asked, her eyes wide. At Hadrian's nod she turned to me with a grin,

"That means you're a Prince!" Deciding to go along with it I gave a little bow and kissed her hand,

"A pleasure to meet the beautiful Lillian." She giggled while Hadrian gave a happy smile.

"That means your Hari's Prince Charming!" Hadrian's eyes widened as a hint of pink appeared on his cheeks. I smirked,

"Oh? How come Hari isn't a Prince? What makes me his Prince Charming?" So, she was into fairy tales, strange as we were the Wizarding World. Our very lives would be considered a fairytale by the Muggles.

"Well Hari's too pretty to be a Prince and since he goes to the Castle that means he's a Princess. Every Princess has a Prince that protects them from all the bad people, and you're here with him. That means you're his Prince Charming!" She stated, at this point Hadrian's face was scarlet and giving me a glare, daring me to say anything.

"It seems Lillian that you have nothing to worry about. I'll make sure Hadrian is completely safe." My hand went around his waist before I pulled him closer. Lillian happy hugged Hadrian, giggling as Fairidah seemed amused with the entire situation,

"Well Lillian it's time to say bye to these lovely boys. You need to go back to bed so you'll grow." She pouted before giving Hadrian a kiss. I was surprised when I received one as well.

"Bye! Bye!" She said, waving her hand as Fairidah took her. Hadrian paid for the order and was surprised when she gave him two more bags,

"No need to pay dear." She said as he prepared to pay once more.

"Surely I can't just…" He replied looking at her in shock. She made him put down the hand with the wallet,

"You can and you will. You've done so much for me, and as payment I only ask that you wear them." Sighing Hadrian nodded, thanking her before taking all the bags.

"Prince Charming?" I asked as we made our way to the carriages. His blush returned,

"I used to read her fairy tales whenever I visited. Fairidah needed an extra hand and I offered. I normally baby-sat Lillian so she could work on orders and such." My mind came up with the image of Hadrian reading a story to the girl on a couch.

"You're good with children." I commented, helping him up the carriage.

"Well I guess my reason for liking them is because of their innocence. They're filled with so much happiness and gaze at the world with awe. They haven't experienced the cruelty of the world and that makes me protective of them." He explained, the bags placed at his feet.

"I can't really understand that, since I hated the children in the orphanage. I found them to be obnoxious and annoying when compared to myself." I wanted him to know of what I thought of children.

"That's understandable, I mean not everyone can like children, but don't you wish to have a family of your own? When you get older?" He questioned. I looked ahead to the castle, the connection that I had with it as a Founder heir pulsing slowly. Glancing to Hadrian out of the corner of my eyes who was busy gazing at the castle as well,

"I guess it depends on who I spend the rest of my life with." I concluded with a smile.

I could understand why he wasn't so keen on having a family yet. His experiences with children wasn't good, and marriage would not be any better. That was taking into consideration of how others acted around him, wanting to impress him, or just be a trophy at his side. He'd have a partner that would end up listening to his every word and demand. That was a dreadful and dull relationship one could have. Tom and I were similar in that sense. We enjoy having a challenge, having a partner that was like that wasn't any fun. Was that the reason why he chose to court me? Because I was like him in that way? That couldn't be it, he said it was because of my smile. Not that he explained what he meant by that, something I was still salty over.

We made our way up to Hogwarts, the castle was always beautiful, but winter brought out its beauty more. The powdery snow covering its grounds and rooftops. It was a scene that fitted the fairy tales Lillian loved. Speaking of Lillian she warmed up to Tom rather quickly. It took her a while to adjust to newcomers, becoming shyer, but there was none of that with Tom... Perhaps Tom was better with children than he imagined…

Shaking my head from such thoughts I looked on ahead. Dread pooled into my stomach at the sight of Rose in her group. It looked like they were waiting for us to appear. For what, Merlin only knew why. But whatever it was, it wasn't something I was going to like. Not if Rose's smirk meant anything, and it wasn't going to be something I'd like. Keeping my guard up, I watched the group approach, Granger still seeming rather smug.

"Well if it isn't my darling little brother. Hello Tom, how was your day?" She asked, fluttering her eyelashes at him. If I wasn't so wary of her at the moment I would have laughed at how absurd she looked. Who fluttered their eyelashes as a way of flirting? Seeing Lavender Brown look at me made me uneasy. Her and Parvati were the largest gossipers of Hogwarts. I don't doubt that they're the source of all the rumors. Being the ones to rule the gossip vineyard. Such a thing would have impressed me, but they use such power pitifully.

"My day was enjoyable, Hogsmeade is wonderful during winter. " He answered, his words short and precise. Before Rose could continue the conversation Lavender spoke up,

"Hadrian aren't you in the midst of a courtship with someone?" I blinked, not expecting to be questioned on something that was made obvious a long while ago. Out of the corner of my eyes I noticed a crowd starting to form. More gossip that was created at my expense.

"Yes Lavender I am, I find myself to find the experience strange in certain aspects." I stated ignoring the whispers.

"Well of course it would be strange, he's being courted by a girl!" Some of them whispered with others agreeing. I clenched my bags irritated that that rumor was still around.

"Then do you mind explaining why you were on what seemed to be a date with Tom Riddle?" Padma questioned. Murmurs went around the crowd, disgusted looks were shot at me. A person that was in a courtship was not allowed to date anyone else except the suitor. I'm not one to break the rules of courtship, though I shouldn't say the same for Tom. Of course, they all thought that my suitor was a female and not the Prince of Slytherin.

"I mean I sympathize for the person courting you. They're trying so hard to win your affection and here you are with someone else. You know that such a thing is looked down upon when in a courtship. Well at least now it's clear as to who would be the unfaithful one in a relationship." Padma stated while my heart raced at the accusation. Infidelity to a sacred bond such as marriage is the lowest a person can go in this society, one's name could be taken. The family no longer wanting to associate themselves with such a person. Tom's grip tightened on my waist, when he had placed his arm around me I didn't know. At the moment I didn't want to be around here near these people who disgusted me and he was most likely aware of that. The whispers of the crowd only got louder as time went on, reaching my ears.

"Wow, I guess all the things Rose said was true." A girl whispered to her friend,

"Yeah, I'm so glad I wasn't chosen to date him! I don't want someone unfaithful, imagine all the girls he's impregnated by tricking them!" She exclaimed. I could feel my body start to tremble against my will as their words seemed to echo. My heart kept on pounding, trying to block out their words. It had never occurred to me that Rose hated me this much. Surely blood mattered? I thought looking at her face, wondering. What little bit of hope I didn't know I had was shattered at her cold face and cruel smirk. She was enjoying this, her friends tearing down what I had built for myself…

"I find it strange that Heiress Potter hadn't informed you Miss Brown, Miss Patil. As her close friends I'd expected that she'd share the developments of her family. That seems to be not the case from your words. Hadrian is not cheating on the person who is courting him." Tom stated, jolting me out of my own downwards spiral. He was defending me? But why? Wouldn't it be more advantageous for him to have my reputation ruined? I could become more accepting to the courtship that way. By doing this he'd lose that edge! I no longer felt as if I was being drowned by the stares and whispers of the jobsworths.

"How would you know Tom? Hadrian after all could be lying, his status as second born could make him desire your power." Hermione stated, sounding rather snooty. My magic flared, irritated with her way of words and voice. It wanted to do nothing more than wipe that smirk off her face. She seemed to have forgotten the incident in the bookshop, how unfortunate. That was the first and last time I'm ever going to help her. How far people would go out of jealousy…

"For the supposed brightest witch of the year you clearly don't put that brain to use Miss Granger. I didn't allow you to use my first name in such a familiar manner as well. Tell me Miss Granger, who stated that Hadrian is being courted by a lady? Rosemary I would assume. Did she provide any evidence with her claim? The name of this lady, where she was from, anything at all?" He listed off. Hermione paused for a moment, looking unsure. The same was happening with Lavender and Padma who gave each other concerned glances. Rose was looking rather pale and there was a glint of fear in her eyes. I couldn't help, but feel a bit vindictive at the sight. Now she was going to get a taste of her own medicine, and it was all her fault.

"No? Well then why believe such a thing? Hadrian himself didn't confirm those rumours and he's the very person who'd know his suitor the most out of everyone." He pressed on, pushing against their thought process. Showing the lack of thought or in this case logic they had placed into the assumptions.

"Instead of creating more rumors, why not go to the source of them and ask for verification? I'm certain Miss Granger would give an entire book on the consequences of not doing such a thing. Regarding as to how I know Hadrian isn't cheating on his suitor…" He paused, adding tension as he glanced at the sheep. Each of them leaning forward, desperate to know who it was that was courting Hadrian Potter,

"I am that suitor. Rosemary didn't inform you of that important little tidbit did she?" He said looking at them, they started to look more like Rose now. The crowd was silent, whether from shock or delight at what was happening I can't say.

"I see... Nevertheless that still leaves me with the issue at all that you have said against my partner. I don't like people implying that the one I'm courting is unfaithful as it also affects me. Did you think as Lord Slytherin I'd not be careful for such a thing to never occur?" He questioned, pressing the group further. That brought Lavender out of her shock induced daze,

"N-No! W-We weren't! We assumed…" She stuttered, flustered and trying to fix her mistake. Liar. I thought, watching as the group floundered around for a solution. Tom seemed to have enough as he made way to the direction where the Ravenclaw tower was. His grip on my waist making me follow while the crowd parted like the sea, each of them giving us shocked looks. Tom paused right before we were out of view, I rolled my eyes internally for his flair of dramatics.

"Assumptions are a dangerous thing to make Miss Brown. You never know when someone's reputation or status could be ruined. All from a little assumption that they knew everything. You'd do well to remember that." After that we walked in silence up the many flights of stairs.

The trip to the Raven Nest was a quiet one. Tom allowing Hadrian to think as he knew that his actions only brought up more questions. He wasn't known as a person to help others, not if there was something for him. To Hadrian it looked as if there was nothing for him to gain, but there was. Tom wanted to gain Hadrian's trust, then will he consider himself to have succeeded. It didn't matter how long it took, as long as he had it, he'd be satisfied.

Hadrian's mind on the other hand was a mess. Confusion and questions swirling around his mind. He couldn't make sense of anything. The things that Tom was doing, his actions, they all contradicted what Tom was known for. One couldn't be the Prince of Slytherin by being nice. That wasn't how things worked, but here Tom was, being nice. It irritated him, he didn't like not having answers. Despite all the conversations they had today he didn't have anything. Only more questions came up, and all the things that needed to be answered might as well be a book.

To his surprise they had reached the entrance of the entrance to the Ravenclaw dorms. The trip was on that normally took fifteen minutes, but it felt as if only two had passed. Swallowing Hadrian moved forward, turning around to face Tom. He didn't know what to say, the confusion still prominent in his mind,

"I suppose I owe you a thank you, you didn't have to do what you did. Yet you did, and that saved everything I've worked for." His voice very soft. Tom was amused at the sight before him. He didn't know that such a simple action would give him Hadrian's gratitude. Unexpected, but not unwanted, never unwanted.

"No need to thank me, I was only doing what was needed. Your sister is a nasty piece of work, and I do not enjoy all the trouble she has been causing me lately. This was the perfect time for me to show how much I disliked the things she's done." He replied. While he liked having Hadrian's gratitude, he didn't know how to act now. So he went for the generic response that was expected of him. Hadrian nodded his head, accepting the response. He also felt rather awkward with the situation.

"I enjoyed today, it was pleasant, though I didn't think that the outing would turn out in such a way." He expected Tom to be more forward and like always he'd reject such advances. None of that happened, the entirety of their time out was rather normal. If they were friends, that was the kind of thing they would have done on a regular basis. Not wanting to linger around with such awkwardness Hadrian entered the Ravenclaw dorms.

Tom watched him go, unbothered by the rather abrupt end of things. He had received what he wanted when asking for such an outing. And so he was content to leave things as they were. His mind brought up the question Hadrian asked. Why had he asked for a courtship with him?

A time that seemed so long ago… A meeting before he became who he was, before they became who they were…

Hey!

Are you...?

Hadrian…

That was a question to be answered another time.

Hello my wonderful readers! I didn't expect the story to gain this many followers, but it has made me immensely happy! I hope you all like this chapter as I have worked months on it to make it perfect for all of you guys. Please leave a review on what you think about it, what you think is going to happen and anything else that comes to mind! I read every single one, and sometimes I may end up using one of your ideas in the story! Until the next chapter!

~Erieene

1. The Ribbon 1408 0 0 2. The Letter 2043 0 0 3. The Flower 4916 0 0 4. The Mistake 6119 0 0 5. The Masquerade 4490 0 0 6. The Proposal 4007 0 0 7. The Outing 11347 0 0 8. The Circles 8909 0 0 9. The Blacks 5796 0 0 10. The Unexpected Surprise 5341 0 0 11. The Black Chaos 6052 0 0